Spanish property laws are different from other European countries, and we strongly advise all foreign property buyers in Spain to find the service of a reputable lawyer firm with experience in the property market.
Many lawyers, especially in tourist areas, offer bilingual legal services or, if the lawyers themselves cannot speak English, German, French etc., they include a Spanish translator as part of their services aswell as translation of documents from Spanish to English.
Some estate agents offer clients free use of their own Spanish solicitors, and even though you may be tempted to choose this option, bear in mind that the legal firm in question is bound to serve the interests of its client (i.e. the estate agent) rather than your own.
The Spanish term for a company of lawyers or solicitors is Bufete de Abogados and many of them advertise their services in yellow pages. Many Spanish consultancy companies, asesorías, offer a combination of legal services and financial services (tax declarations, plusvalía...).
If you can, try to use the services of a company recommended to you by someone. Try ringing your local consulate to see if they can recommend a company. Depending on whereabouts in Spain you are buying a house, we may be able to recommend reputable, bilingual (Spanish-English) lawyers. Write to us for further information.
We have heard all sorts of fees charged to buyers who have little idea of average solicitor fees in Spain and so can easily be overcharged. Bear the following facts in mind
Some lawyers charge a percentage of the purchase price as their fee (anything from 1 to 1.5 percent). So, the more expensive your property, the more you have to pay, even though size and price do not necessarily mean more work.
Some lawyers charge another fee on top of the percentage, which they call a "documents fee". We had a message recently from one Euroresidentes user whose lawyers wanted to charge him 1 percent + .75 percent "documentation fee". He was going to be charged a total of over 2500 euros, which was about double the average price for lawyers services in the area of Spain where he was buying his house.
Other lawyers charge an hourly fee, which can range between 100 and 150 euros per hour, depending on the law firm. House transactions do not actually entail much work for a lawyer in Spain. The paperwork is very straightforward and experienced lawyers will need no longer than a few hours to check everything.
If you are getting a mortgage with a Spanish bank, the bank lawyers will usually check the deeds and property register themselves, and a small fee will be included for this in the mortgage set-up costs. This does not mean that you should not hire the services of your own lawyer, but it is something to bear in mind.
We would advise all property buyers in Spain to take the following steps:
Find a good, independent and recommended local lawyer who has thorough knowledge of the area in which you are purchasing your property. Ask your local consulate - staff there may be able to help. Alternatively send an email to Euroresidentes (firstname.lastname@example.org) specifying where you are looking for (or have found) a property to buy, and we will forward the name of a local reputable lawyer experienced in serving the needs of non-Spanish property buyers. We have a long list of lawyers who have been successfully hired by Brits who have purchased real estate in Spain (See this testimony received from a recent satisfied customer
Once you have found a recommended Spanish lawyer, agree on the fee before you do anything else. If you decide to be charged a fee based on an hourly rate, ask for an estimated number of hours before you agree. If you are lucky to have more than one recommendation of independent lawyers, get two estimates and compare them.
Don't use a lawyer recommended to you by the property vendor, whether it is a private sale or an estate agent. In both cases the priority of the vendor is to sell as quickly as possible and at the highest price possible. The buyer's interests however are to ensure that this is a legal sale, that the property itself is legal and sellable, the price is fair, the paperwork is correct, the vendor is in a position to sell, legal services are charged according to local rates and, very important, that the property is in no way under threat from local urban policies.